Reviewed by GREG KING.
There have been plenty of sci-fi spoofs before. But whereas films like Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs and Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks were uneven and only fitfully funny, Galaxy Quest is a real winner. While it mercilessly lampoons many of the familiar clichés and characters of those cheesy old sci-fi series like Star Trek, etc, Galaxy Quest still possesses a healthy reverence for the genre as a whole. Twenty years ago the sci-fi action series Galaxy Quest was a cult hit on television. When the show was cancelled, the stars found themselves forever typecast as gallant space heroes, but have found good roles hard to come by. For the past two decades they have existed mainly by appearing at regular conventions for die hard fans and opening new shopping centres. Unexpectedly they are offered the ultimate gig when the last remaining Thermians come to Earth seeking help to defeat the merciless Sarris, a galactic invader who has destroyed their home planet. The Thermians have picked up television signals from Earth and have interpreted the various shows (including Gilligan’s Island) as important historical documents. The naive and trusting Thermians place the responsibility of ensuring their survival and the defeat of Sarris on the shoulders of a bunch of actors who have become disillusioned with the heroic characters with which they are synonymous. While on the tv series, their daring exploits looked so easy, with the help of cheap special effects and miniature props. This time they’re playing for real, with the future of the universe at stake. Yet, in defending the hapless Thermians, the crew finally discover exactly what their show and their characters have meant to many people over the years. Dean Parosit, whose previous film was the little seen black comedy Home Fries, maintains a cracking pace throughout, and directs with an infectious enthusiasm. He is supported by a wonderful cast, whose performances seem to capture the spirit of this enjoyable piece of nonsense. Tim Allen is perfectly cast as the egotistical Nesmith, who basks in the glory of his fans yet holds them, and his fellow co-stars, in contempt. Sporting a blonde wig, Sigourney Weaver looks rather like Jane Fonda, circa Barbarella, but she seems to be having fun sending up the image of stereotypical female roles in sci-fi films. Alan Rickman is delightfully droll and deadpan as the veteran Shakespearean actor who resents being remembered purely for his undemanding offsider role as the loyal alien lieutenant. Sam Rockwell, from Lawn Dogs and The Green Mile, etc, brings some energy to his role as the plucky comic relief, the extra along for the ride, who constantly bemoans the fact that, given his nonentity status, he will most likely be the first one killed. The clever script is peppered with in-jokes, and contains some sly digs at the unwanted baggage that is a part of being famous. The excessive nature of many fans is also explored with biting humour. The special effects are tremendous, as are some of the battle sequences. Somewhat surprisingly, Galaxy Quest has more snap and action than many other recent sci-fi dramas that have taken themselves a little too seriously.